How to Make Homemade Toys With Pulleys & Levers

By Linda Shepard
Make simple toys that help explain the engineering theories behind pulleys and levers.
Make simple toys that help explain the engineering theories behind pulleys and levers.

Toys created with household objects can teach the basic engineering theories behind pulleys and levers. Make a toy crane that will pick up and transport small hardware via the use of a pulley. Create a toy seesaw for dolls and action figures that can be used to explain how a lever lifts and moves objects. The toys, built by the children with the help of an adult, will capture the imaginations of the children while educating them about engineering and construction.

Make a Toy Pulley Crane

Cut a piece of tape 6-inches long. Cut another piece of tape 4-inches long. Attach the two pieces of tape by centering the pieces lengthwise and pressing the sticky sides together.

Attach the sticky tips of the tape length to the top of a doorway to serve as the pulley.

Cut a length of string that is double the height of the doorway, less 2 feet. Pull the string through the pulley and let the ends hang down.

Place the magnets, grabbing each other, at the bottom of one hanging string.

Scatter the nuts and bolts on the floor beneath the toy crane. Pick up the nuts and bolts by pulling the free end of the string to manipulate the magnet end. Place the nuts and bolts in the shoebox “receiving area.”

Make a Toy Lever Seesaw

Cut two pieces of cardboard from the box to measure 2-feet by 6-inches.

Layer and tape the pieces together to create a rigid seesaw ramp.

Cut one piece of cardboard 1-foot by 6-inches. Roll the cardboard into a tube shape and tape closed.

Center the seesaw ramp over the cardboard tube. Use the lever motion of the seesaw to raise and lower dolls or action figures of different weights.

Things You Will Need

  • Masking tape
  • 2 small round magnets
  • String
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Shoebox
  • Action figures
  • Cardboard box
  • Scissors
  • Dolls

About the Author

Linda Shepard has been staff writer for "C & G Newspapers" for over 10 years, covering local government and crime and serving as the newspaper's food writer. She has written for "Michigan Meetings Magazine" and is also the owner of Spectacularstrolls.com, an online business of self-guided walking tours.